Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, Grades 3–5
Incorporating manipulative materials, children’s books, and problem-solving investigations, these lessons actively engage students in creating, recognizing, describing, and extending patterns, and representing patterns with words, tables, variables, and graphs. The lessons also introduce students to solving equations and plotting points.
This book is part of the Lessons for Algebraic Thinking®, Complete Series.
Maryann Wickett, Katharine Kharas, and Marilyn Burns
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Review by Martha LaPointe, teacher of Gifted and Talented Students for MSAD #1 in Presque Isle, Maine. From the Summer 2004 issue of Intersection, a newsletter of the ExxonMobil Corporation and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). The review has been reprinted with permission from Intersection, © 2004, by ExxonMobil Corporation.
Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, Grades 3–5 is a Math Solutions Publication. One in a series of titles spanning grades K–2, 3–5, and 6–8, it is a book that supports teachers’ mathematical understanding as well as students’. The lessons are designed to introduce students to algebraic thinking concepts. They are not watered down high school lessons. Rather, the lessons show students the relationships between number and both geometry and algebra. The goal of these lessons is to develop students’ algebraic thinking, building a foundation of understanding and skills while they are young so that they can be successful in their later, more formal study of algebra at the secondary level and beyond.
The book is very supportive for the teacher who might not be comfortable teaching algebra. A section of the introduction gives background information in the key areas of algebraic thinking. In addition, there is essential background information particular to each lesson. The lessons would be useful for a teacher study group to develop their own understanding of algebraic concepts before using the lessons with their students.
As is typical of Math Solutions publications, lessons are illuminated through vignettes. Text for the vignettes was gathered through multiple trials in third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade classes. The authors purposely have not indicated the grade level in which the lesson was taught. The grade at which a lesson is used will depend on students’ experience. The vignettes place the reader right in a classroom as an observer. The description of a class in action is an invaluable tool for planning and teaching the lesson. The samples of student work help serve as a guide for assessment of understanding.
The lessons can be used from grades 3–5, depending upon the experience and needs of the students. The lessons could be distributed across grades in schools where teachers collaborate in planning the teaching of a concept. Recommendations for appropriate grade distribution are given in the introduction. Lessons in the book are divided into two sections. In Part One, five lessons introduce students to concepts of growth patterns, true and false sentences, and graphing. In Part Two, some lessons are suitable for providing experience with describing and extending growth patterns and representing them with equations and on graphs. Other lessons cover solving equations with one variable.
The reading of a trade book is sometimes used to provide context for the lesson, and a list of those books would be helpful for planning. However, the lessons can be taught without the trade book introduction. The teacher could tell students the synopsis of each story that is provided in the background section of the lesson.
I would recommend this title to teachers who are interested in providing instruction in algebraic thinking early on in the grades. It would also be useful for a teacher study group to deepen teachers’ mathematical understanding.